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Help me understand price differences in strats

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by dustint, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. dustint

    dustint Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 2, 2010
    First post here, been in the teletalk forum for a few years but sold the tele and in the market for an American strat. Just enjoyed playing the old Harmony strat I had too much and now want the real deal.

    Ive researched a decent amount but still have trouble with figuring the difference between a $500 to $600 used strat over one going for $900-$1000. Im talking about a good condition American strat, excluding anniversary or customs or anything like that which might increase value. I understand that someone who bought one new and paid a chunk for it, and is selling it after a year or so, would not want to lose much. But what I am seeing is a few below 600, maybe 5-10 years old, that look just fine. Im also seeing alot of them being closer to a 1000. If the differences are minimal then thats my target right, the cheapest strat I can find in good condition. Obviously oversimplified, but with the used market its just so random and I want to have this guitar a long time. Any advice on this or direction would be much appreciated.


  2. Phat-O-Caster

    Phat-O-Caster Strat-O-Master

    Apr 16, 2008
    Guitars are like people-hard to make any sweeping statements about any group or judge them by looks or economics-you just have to get to know them one at a time-then see if you'd like 'em in your world. I'm always lookin' for a new friend-checking classified adds,garage sales,pawn shops or better yet guys headed into the pawn shop carrying a case,etc. Start looking and playing everything you can get your hands on is the only way to find "the one"-and if it's a deal it will play even sweeter

  3. dustint

    dustint Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 2, 2010
    I hear you on all being unique. I guess Im not one to know enough about a guitar in a small amount of time. I can gather that everythings where its supposed to be and what flaws it has. What I mean is for me, finding mojo in a guitar takes me a few days. I had the tele that I mentioned earlier, it was a MIM 72 reissue, and it just didnt do it for me. Took me a while to pin this down and decide I wanted to sell her.

  4. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 1, 2009
    My house.
    It sounds like you're checking ebay, am I right? I'd put a watch on some of these guitars to see what they actually sell for. I'd also risk being rude and ask the guy whos selling his for 1000 what makes it worth it, politely of course. Some sellers are just fishing for what ever they can get. Don't ruch or be impulsive and you'll find a good deal. Obviously the slightly older (not vintage) stats may not be quite as desirable as a newer one that somebody hasn't put much time into. Use your common sense and don't buy from someone who doesn't have very good feedback.

    After re-reading your post it sounds like you've got your head on straight. But definately watch them to see if they sell and what they really go for. I would probably approach it like you as well, and beware of the too good to be true strat.

  5. peskypesky

    peskypesky -------

    Aug 16, 2009
    be VERY careful buying a used Strat if you are not savvy. there are a lot of scammers out there. buy it from a reputable store unless you really know the details.

  6. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 1, 2009
    My house.

    Agreed! Agreed!

  7. dustint

    dustint Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 2, 2010
    Im actually not looking on ebay. I mean I do look for fun, but I have to at least hold the guitar before buying it, just a rule of mine. Im hitting the pawn shops and craigslist mostly. Im sure I could find a deal on ebay, and I have bought a guitar site unseen before thats been great, but not this time around.

    Thanks for the advice so far. Im going to have to keep learning more about fenders and the things they did to them over the years.

  8. peskypesky

    peskypesky -------

    Aug 16, 2009
    beware of CL too! scammers abound.

  9. Poseidon9447

    Poseidon9447 Strat-O-Master

    Jan 17, 2009
    Palm Coast, FL
    Best advice ever pesky.

    Too often people are scammed by people using big words and building up hype about their POS guitar they are selling. And people that dont know what they are really looking at are buying these way over paying, then later finding out they were scammed.

  10. dustint

    dustint Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 2, 2010
    Well I appreciate the advice so far, basically dont get scammed. Ha, got it.

    I guess Im still left pondering why 2 fender strats, a few years apart both in good shape, will be sold in the open market for several hundred dollars difference in price. Just so many variables I guess, not to mention the sellers motives.

    Let me try asking this a different way. How can I tell if an american body and an american neck where "born" together? It seems that one thing that could get you is buying a partscaster without knowing. Which would lower the value correct? Do I have a way of telling that at a minimum the guitar Im looking at is intact from the factory, excluding electronics?

    Hell, Id buy the fender from a pawn shop for $500 without a case and rusty strings if I knew that Im buying one that was just abandoned so to speak and is stock from the factory. As opposed to the same guitar with paperwork and fender case for $1000.

    Thanks again guys for chiming in...

  11. wazupwiop

    wazupwiop Strat-Talker

    Aug 17, 2009
    When you go to a Craigslist deal, take at least one person with you. Just be cautious and use your smarts.

  12. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 1, 2009
    My house.
    Online i dunno if you can tell if its a parts caster. In person if it plays and sounds great and they weren't born together then who cares? Well you wouldn't want to pay a grand for it, but then who knows, there are some great parts casters out there. Buy from reputable place. If it is craigslist deal then...be careful. Dunno why, but I keep picturing the seller wanting to meet you in an alley. Make deal in person with budy etc. I still say watch what they sell for on ebay. Politely ask why the guy whos selling for 1000 thinks its worth it. Maybe mention that you saw the same or similar guitar for much less elswhere. On the other hand if deal seems too good to be true then it probably is. Unless you buy from me. The last american strat I sold was a lone star strat I sold to a buddy for 350. Stupid stupid stupid.

  13. JimyTheAssassin

    JimyTheAssassin Strat-Talk Member

    Oct 4, 2009
    First, when speaking about Fender, "A few years apart" can matter greatly or esoterically depending on the years we're talking. Early Vintage strats (54-63) varied in very significant ways. Various era's saw producition shifts (1966 for example). Features change, models are introduced, and QC waxes and wanes. Those who really study this sort of thing and KNOW what they want will pay for it. Bottom line.

    To skip ahead IF you are learned in the above info, you can definitely find a diamond in the rough, and hope no one is the wiser in said pawn shop. But like a game of poker, you don't want to show your hand too early, or they'll see that you know something they don't. Same goes for used instruments at a guitar shop, though they often go by blue book prices when they're not sure.

    Lastly, how do you know if a neck and body are original? Older instruments have key features, and you'd have to research it before you accidentally buy a fake. If it comes from teh back of a van and they say.. hey I've got an all original '54 strat.. just $300.. you better run from that. Scams are all over no matter what you're buying.. just use your head. But more modern instruments are harder for sure. If you have time you can find out what the serial belongs to (series model year etc). That at least gives you a guideline to judge whether things were replaced. More over if you have time and can see under the hood you may be able to judge if the body is a replacement from something else.. even a MIM or a Squier. Certain features like the Pick guard, saddles, bridge block, body thickness could be red flags that you have a non USA body. But if we're talking MIA body and MIA neck, yes, it's a big can of worms. There are somethings that cue certain era's like "squared body edges, or swimming pool routes" but that's really digging deep.

  14. little George

    little George Strat-Talker

    Oct 13, 2009
    To me the difference between a $500 Strat & an $800 dollar one is, I'm buying the $500 one, & I'm selling the $800 one.

  15. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 6, 2008
    You could easily find 2 MIA strats on CL that were the same, and one was $500 and one was $1000 (maybe more). Depends how much the person has in it, and how bad they want to sell it. The $1000 seller may be hoping for a miracle, the $500 seller probably wants to move it this week, if not today (in a big metro area like Atlanta, anyway).

    What I've seen, in my Tele looking, is if it's $500, and a deal, it's gone if you spend time trying to get emails back and forth. Not saying the $500 MIA would have been the right guitar for you or not, but someone either knew right away it was, or they (dealer, possibly) got it even cheaper, and will try to turn it for a couple hundred profit at some point. If you are ready to buy, and it sounds like it is what you're looking for, go look and be ready to buy.

    The cheap ones that don't sell quickly are probably questionable, beat up, or not in a condition to really determine if they're Ok. I'd say anything $500, up to 800 (asking) should get a look. At the upper end you'd want a good case, and not beat. Go and play, figure out what you want. Keep in mind there are MIA Strats, new, that sell for $800 every day online, so know your models well.

    Like others say, I would not take a lot of cash to a transaction like that. Meet up with the understanding you'll drive to your bank to get the cash and do the actual exchange there.

    Oh, yeah, these things are not rare. If you miss one this week, there will be another next week, or the week after. Be patient.

  16. Dice

    Dice Strat-O-Master

    Feb 19, 2009
    I'll repeat the earlier suggestion that you get out and play as many as you can at a reputable dealer. If you're "new" to Strats, you are much better off paying 10% more from a dealer than getting what you think to be a bargain which is actually a trainwreck.

    There is such a thing as being too frugal. Find the one that you like the most (playability, tone, feel, etc.) and then take a look at the price tag and see what you can work out. Getting the wrong guitar "for you" isn't worth saving a bit of money over.

    Good luck - and let us know what you end up getting!

  17. CeltRocka

    CeltRocka Senior Stratmaster

    May 28, 2009
    Wales UK
    There are quite a few variations with American Fenders[eg a Dan Smith strat circa 1982 would fetch a lot more than one say a few years older] there are vintage re issues,standards,deluxes etc They all have certain periods in which there were better examples than others.Its just about knowing what you're buying.If it sounds good and price is right then go for it

  18. DKoor

    DKoor Strat-O-Master

    Nov 7, 2009
    I think the very first thing you need to know is what are you going to buy.

    Another words, you don't go to a grocery store thinking I'm going to buy apples and yet afterwards you are driving home with watermellon on the back seat.

    You need to narrow down your search on your likings.

    For instance I like a bit fatter necks. That means I wont buy American Standard because it features modern "C" shape which is thinnest Fender neck currently.

    I like 12" fretboard radius (I have SG Special and I dig the neck radius, am also satisfied with neck thickness too) so that means I wont buy a Strat with 7,25" vintage neck radius. But I may go with 9,5".

    Etc. etc.

    Those things, when determined will not only help you find your instrument easier but will also most likely save you from being scammed in a way that by your narrowing the selection you will end up with few strat models, preferably two-three tops.

    For instance I narrowed my selection to Jimmie Vaughan Strat and Classic Player '50's/'60's Strat.
    I look on net for all possible info about these strats, differences in models by years (if they exist), body cavities (guitar stripped down) and all unique guitar features, type of tuners, bridge, pups, pickguard, serial numbers etc. ... basically I get to know these models inside out before I even held them in my hands.
    When I find the seller and he gives me the pics I can also post those pics on the net to see what other guys think too...

    Then, what are the chances that someone may scam me when I buy those guitars personally, 1st hand?

    ps. sorry for long post:neutral:

  19. Vintagebrit

    Vintagebrit Great Hugger of Strats Strat-Talk Supporter

    Feb 8, 2010
    See what a can of worms you opened. These sort of thoughts went through my mind time and again, and I'm not the smartest of people to know when I'm being scammed. Because of this I have only bought new, with the knowledge that when I get it, it's as it was intended.
    And they'll stay with me until my body parts are passed on to someone else!!!

  20. 67Strat

    67Strat Strat-Talker

    Jul 22, 2009
    Buying a guitar isn't rocket science. Do the necessary research. Spend some time checking out new stuff so you are familiar with different models. Head out to a retailer and check a few out.

    Most sellers with legit items won't have a problem answering your questions, taking multiple pics etc and many you be happy to meet you at a local retailer to verify the guitar's authenticity. I've been buying and selling for years, in my experience the scams are few and usually obvious. There are price differences with anything on the market, new and used. I wouldn't let that be your guide for guitars or anything else.